C. S. Lewis on becoming a Christian

Posted by Craig Borlase on 6 January 2016

C.S. Lewis never published a full account of how he became a Christian. He tried a few times, even writing an obscure work called The Pilgrim’s Redress, but he never felt that he had truly written his conversion story.

And then, by accident, he produced a brief sketch that tells the story perfectly. Asked by his publisher to contribute something for a book jacket, he sent them this:

"I was a younger son, and we lost my mother when I was a child. That meant very long days alone when my father was at work and my brother at boarding school. Alone in a big house full of books. I suppose that fixed a literary bent. I drew a lot, but soon began to write more. My first stories were mostly about mice (influence of Beatrix Potter), but mice usually in armour killing gigantic cats (influence of fairy stories). That is, I wrote the books I should have liked to read if only I could have got them. That’s always been my reason for writing. People won’t write the books I want, so I have to do it for myself: no rot about “self-expression.” I loathed school. Being an infantry soldier in the last war would have been nicer if one had known one was going to survive. I was wounded—by an English shell. (Hence the greetings of an aunt who said, with obvious relief, “Oh, so that’s why you were wounded in the back!”) I gave up Christianity at about fourteen. Came back to it when getting on for thirty. An almost purely philosophical conversion. I didn’t want to. I’m not the religious type. I want to be let alone, to feel I’m my own master: but since the facts seemed to be the opposite I had to give in. My happiest hours are spent with three or four old friends in old clothes tramping together and putting up in small pubs—or else sitting up till the small hours in someone’s college rooms talking nonsense, poetry, theology, metaphysics over beer, tea, and pipes. There’s no sound I like better than adult male laughter.”

What’s this got to do with worship? Maybe it’ll encourage you to write the songs that nobody else is writing. Perhaps it will prompt you to try to define that unique message you have inside you. Or maybe it’ll just make you feel better about not having a dramatic conversion story or loathing school.

Just as Beatrix Potter and fairy stories influenced his creativity, so grief and fear, war and doubt all played their part in shaping his character. Perhaps reading Lewis’ words will help you remember that God has a wonderful way of taking the elements that brought pain into our lives and using them to bring us closer to Him.

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